Marianne's Story: Making Change for Patients and Families

Marianne's Story: Making Change for Patients and Families

“It’s all about the patients,” explains neurosurgery social worker and Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada volunteer Marianne Lee. In 2006 Marianne was approached by neurosurgeon and chair of the board Dr. Joseph Megyesi about joining the organization’s Board of Directors.

“I decided it was a great way to make a difference at a larger level, to help brain tumour patients across the country.” Since that time Marianne has given of her time and expertise in many ways, helping to lead change and growth for the brain tumour community.

Since the summer of 1988 Marianne has been the neuro-surgical social worker on the seventh floor of University Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario. Any brain tumour patient who undergoes surgery in the hospital will likely benefit from at least one visit with Marianne.

“There is no typical patient,” she explains, “but I work hard to find anything we can do to make a difference for them.” This might include navigating financial issues to helping families cope with the uncertainty that often comes with a brain tumour diagnosis. “You never know what a patient and family may be dealing with, so each one needs their own focus and support.”

It is this perspective that Marianne has brought to each meeting she has attended over the years. When she first joined the board, she began participating in the Information, Support and Education Committee to help guide the development of programs and services for patients and families. Soon, she was also taking on a role with the Research Committee, helping to administer and grow the important research program, which she says “gives hope to us all.”Over the years she has also volunteered her time as a speaker at Brain Tumour Information Day events and attended the national Think Tank events to guide the organization’s strategy.

Marianne says everything she does with Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada helps to improve her day-to-day work with patients. “From everything I learn I can answer questions now that I would maybe otherwise not be able to answer.”

Then in 2011, as the Advocacy program for the organization began to grow, Marianne took on the role of Chair of the Advocacy Committee. Under her leadership, the committee has identified issues and begun working with the brain tumour community, the health care community, other partners and representatives from government to make changes – all with the goal of improving things for anyone affected by a brain tumour.

As the Advocacy program continues to evolve, Marianne dreams about change that she would like to see achieved. When asked about her hopes for the future, Marianne has three priorities she wants to see improved through advocacy efforts:

  • Equal access for all patients to treatments across Canada – perhaps some sort of national drug program
  • Improved home care for brain tumour patients, as the community is so very unique.
  • Find a cure. “That’s the biggest dream of all”


Thank you Marianne for all of the time you give to brain tumour patients and families, the hope and chance generated couldn’t be done without you. To learn more about volunteering contact Jennifer McIntosh.

Story posted: April 2013

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